Camp Darby is a United States Army Base located in western Italy near the metropolitan areas of Livorno and Pisa. Established in 1952, the base owes its namesake to United States Army Brigadier General William O. Darby, who was killed in action in Italy on April 23, 1945.
Camp Darby is home to the only US Military beach in Europe, American Beach, which is popular with US Military personnel across Europe as a leave and liberty spot. The instillation is home to a wide range of United States military units, including the 3rd/405th Army field support Battalion, United States Army garrison Livorno, AFN Livorno, Livorno Unit Schools, AAFES, 497th Trans, 839th Trans and the 731st Munitions Squadron (MUNS).
In the years following Axis powers surrender and the close of World War II, Italy and the United States signed a treaty that allowed for the United States to occupy a section of land near Livorno. The treaty would allow US forces to keep operation lines of communication across the country and station troops in the area, and in 1951 Camp Darby was established. In 1955 the Austrian State Treaty was signed, requiring all US forces in Austria to be withdrawn. Camp Darby was used as the primary withdraw point for all United States troops, supplies and assets that had formerly been stationed in Austria.
In addition to being named for well-known World War II figure, the main square of the base is dedicated to another World War II hero and Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, Private Masato “Curly” Nakae. Nakae was Japanese American soldier who fought in Europe with both the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in battles near the city of Pisa. Nakes service weapon became jammed in battle, and after picking up a wounded comrade’s weapon he fought off repeated waves of attacking enemy forces. Severely wounded in combat, Nake continued to fight, refusing surrender several times. He was eventually able to repel the attackers, eventually causing them to order a retreat and call off the attack.
Camp Darby has also played a significant medical role for US forces over the last several decades. The United States Army Europe (USAREUR) Contingency Hospital for the 7th Medical Command was stationed at Camp Darby for several years between 1980 and the mid 1990’s. The USAREUR Contingency Hospital was established via Congressional action, following the terrorist bombings the of the United States Marine Barracks in Beirut Lebanon in 1983. Under command of Captain Laurent La Brie, the contingency hospital operated under the mission of being able to respond to any natural disaster or terrorist attack within 18 hours, anywhere in the eastern hemisphere.
Events at Camp Darby
Though well known for many things across the United States Army, Camp Darby has several events that are unique to the base. Most famous of these is the annual Camp Darby Olympics. A recent advent of the base, soldiers from the base compete against airmen from the 731 Munitions Squadron in events like the tire relay, sprints, basketball, tug of war, basketball and swimming. The local Camp Darby Association also hosts several communities like the community yard sale, the “Run to The Tower” and a regular flea market.
Camp Darby Units
Camp Darby is one of the largest United States Bases in Europe. Department of Defense tenants, United States Air Force Units and 26 United States Army units currently reside on the base. The 839th Transportation Battalion and Combat Equipment Battalion-Livorno make up a bulk of the base infrastructure, both supporting and controlling many of the day to day operations of the installation. The 839th Transportation Battalion, under control of the Military Traffic Management Command is tasked with operating all United States supporting seaports in the Mediterranean theater. Combat Equipment Battalion-Livorno has the supporting mission of maintain, storing and repairing all prepositioned military vehicles and assets on the base.
Camp Darby is home to a 2,000 Acre ammunition storage site, consisting of 125 secure bunkers that store ammunition reserves for the United States Army and Air Force commands in Europe. Additionally, Army Material Command Europe maintains its headquarters at Camp Darby.
Tennant US Air Force units include the 31st Redhorse Flight and the 31st Munitions Squadron. The 31st Redhorse Flight maintains a 500 piece inventory that makes up two complete sets of prepositioned engineering equipment. With this equipment, Redhorse Flight Airmen can construct, maintain and repair runways and entire airfields anywhere in the eastern hemisphere.
While the bulk of Camp Darby’s units are under Army Command, a bulk of this made up by the Combat Equipment Battalion-Livorno. This specialized unit stores and maintains equipment for what is commonly known as a “two by two brigade set”, two full mechanize infantry and two full armor battalions. To complete their mission, Combat Equipment Battalion-Livorno maintains a massive inventory, consisting of everything need to support, maintain and repair Humvees, heavy trucks, M1 Abrams tanks, M88 Tank Recovery Vehicles and M2 and M3 configurations of Bradly Fighting Vehicles.
A more comprehensive list of Camp Darby units includes the 509th Signal Battalion, 314th Support Center (Reserves), 2×2 Brigade Set (APS-2), MTMC, (one mile from post), SATCOM, Stagno, Italy, (three miles from post), Combat Equipment Bn.- South (CEB-S), Leghorn Army Depot, 14th Transportation Battalion MCT-L, 31st RED HORSE Flight and the 31st Munitions Maintenance Squadron.
Housing and Population
Camp Darby maintains a permanent staff of around 350 US soldiers and Airmen in addition to a revolving population of nearly 2,000 rotating personnel and their families. In summer months Camp Darby is often used as a National Guard training facility, with 700 Army National Guard soldiers making their way to the base for engineer, mechanic and military police training. The base also employs approximately 580 Italian nationals in support roles.
On base housing is not provided, so a majority of soldiers and airmen choose to live in US Government leased housing outside the base gates. Service members not living in the government leased housing have a variety of options within the local community. The base housing office does provide BAQ for those living in the community and is authorized to defray utility and rent costs.
In addition to a gorgeous location, Camp Darby offers all the amenities of a stateside US Army installation with a full PX, commissary and MWR facility. Service members, dependents, retirees and all NATO staff have full access to all of Camp Darby’s amenities.